IRIN Update 682 for 31 May

IRIN Update 682 for 31 May

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 682 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 31 May 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Agreement to implement Sirte accord

DRC Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo held talks in Kampala on Sunday with Ugandan State Minister for Foreign Affairs Amama Mbabazi, DRC television reported. It said the "marathon" talks ended with agreement on the "rapid" implementation of the Sirte accord, signed in Libya last month. They decided that a meeting of military experts and specialised services of the two countries would be organised as soon as possible. The team would draw up a plan for the withdrawal of Ugandan troops and the deployment of an intervention force at the border between the DRC and Uganda, the television reported. It said the Ugandan side expressed concern about DRC rebels "under its protection", but the DRC referred to the forthcoming national debate in which Congolese "are invited to make their views known".

Rwanda announces ceasefire

Rwanda has declared a unilateral ceasefire in the DRC, which came into effect on Friday at midnight local time. In comments broadcast by Rwandan radio on Saturday, Foreign Minister Amri Sued Ismael explained the move was taken to improve the chances of a negotiated and comprehensive ceasefire accord within the context of the Lusaka peace process. He reiterated denials of a rift between Rwanda and Uganda over policy in the DRC. Regional analysts told IRIN on Monday divisions may exist at a lower level concerning the situation on the ground, but it is unlikely that leaders of the two countries have major disagreements.

Uganda welcomes ceasefire, differing reactions in DRC

Uganda hailed the Rwandan announcement as a "sign of goodwill". Presidential Press Secretary Hope Kivengere told IRIN on Monday Rwanda's concern had always been the Interahamwe militia. "But now it seems it [Rwanda] is convinced something has worked out," she said. "All those involved in the DRC crisis have made a point. And each of them has had to give up something for peace to materialise."

DRC State Minister for Internal Affairs Gaetan Kakudji said the declaration was "not enough". Speaking over DRC television on Saturday, he claimed the Rwandans "are secretly moving their troops take us by surprise". He said the Rwandans should begin withdrawing their soldiers. But Kakudji's counterpart at the foreign ministry, Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, described Rwanda's move as a "step in the right direction". He cautioned however, that as this was a unilateral declaration, it could also be broken unilaterally.

Wamba urged to work with Kinshasa

Ndombasi also urged "stray Congolese", particularly ousted rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, to return to Kinshasa. At a news conference, reported by DRC television, he appealed to Wamba to "make just a little more effort and come here to discuss state affairs". "You have not left the great master Kagame to fall into servility at the service of ... Mr Museveni," he said.

Chad completes pullout, Ugandans reportedly withdraw

Rwanda's ceasefire announcement followed a reported pullout by Uganda from parts of DRC and the completion of a Chadian troop withdrawal, which began last week. The Ugandan independent 'Monitor' newspaper said troops with heavy artillery guns had already started arriving in Kampala last week. Humanitarian sources told IRIN some 2,000 Chadian troops had withdrawn from northwestern DRC to Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, where the UN peacekeeping mission (MINURCA) has been mobilised to ensure their smooth passage. The sources pointed out the logicality of rebel forces now moving into vacated territory. The rebel group, Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), is active in northwest Equateur province.

Outcome of Kampala meeting "confidential"

The outcome of Friday's meeting between Ugandan defence ministry officials and representatives of a group of Libyan soldiers who arrived unexpectedly in the country remains "confidential", Ugandan Presidential Press Secretary Hope Kivengere told IRIN. "I cannot say much about it, it is all highly confidential," she said.

A report in the semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper on Monday put the number of Libyan soldiers at 62, saying an additional 250 were expected to follow. It said the soldiers had visited Mpondwe, Bwera, Kasese and Bundibugyo in western Uganda. Quoted by the newspaper, State Minister Amama Mbabazi said however the Libyans could not be deployed "because there's no ceasefire to oversee". "We [Uganda] are not going to declare a ceasefire because we've not been on the offensive," he said.

RWANDA: Several hundred Interahamwe killed, 73 captured in DRC

The Rwandan army says it has captured 73 ex-FAR and Interahamwe militiamen and several hundred have been killed in DRC since January. According to a report in the Rwandan 'New Times' weekly, they were killed or captured while undergoing training to launch attacks against Rwanda or in combat alongside DRC and Zimbabwean troops. Testimonies from Interahamwe captives revealed that DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila has remobilised, trained and equipped thousands of militiamen. According to Rwandan estimates there are some 5,000 militiamen still at large in the DRC. Vice-President Paul Kagame has said "no effort will be spared to defend the nation against this threat". 'New Times' quoted a defence ministry spokesman as saying the army's presence in DRC had resulted in improved security for Rwanda.

RTLM boss demands "specific charges"

Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of the extremist Radio Television libre des mille collines (RTLM), has called for "specific charges" to be levelled against him at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. The Hirondelle news agency quoted his lawyer as saying Nahimana had been detained for three years "without knowing exactly what he is accused of". The lawyer said the charges against Nahimana had been amended three times and had become "vaguer".

BURUNDI: Rebels kill 11 in east

Rebels on Friday killed 11 people in the eastern Rutana province, razing 70 houses to the ground at Gihofi in Bukemba commune, Burundi radio reported. It said their targets had included the Mosso Sugar Company. They fled in disarray towards the Tanzanian border after the security forces intervened, the radio said.

Chinese grant for Burundi

The Chinese government has given Burundi a financial grant worth US $2.5 million for the country to use according to its "priorities". Burundi radio said the donation was announced during the commencement of the Burundi-China grant joint commission proceedings in Bujumbura on Friday.

UGANDA: 20 rebels killed in western Uganda

Twenty rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were killed recently in Muhambo village, Ruwenzori in western Uganda's Kasese district. Ugandan radio attributed the report to a rescued abductee who claimed an ADF commander was among the dead. ADF rebels have recently intensified their activities in the west, and the government has responded by increasing security in the area.

One killed in Kampala blast

An explosion occurred in Nakulabye, western Kampala, on Sunday night, killing one person, Ugandan radio reported. Police were conducting investigations into the blast, it added.

Aids vaccine trials "encouraging"

Initial results from ongoing trials of an AIDS vaccine on some 40 Ugandans are showing "encouraging" results, scientists have said. "We have so far achieved all the initial scientific objectives, got the people we wanted to recruit and the vaccine has not caused any side effects," the weekly newspaper 'The East African' quoted the director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC), Peter Mugyenyi, as saying. The trials for the vaccine, Canary pox Alvac HIV, began in February and will be conducted in three stages. Uganda was selected by the WHO, along with Brazil and Thailand, as one of the sites for the trials.

KENYA: Malaria kills 90 in western Kenya

Ninety people have died in Kenya's western Kisii district over a three-week period following a malaria outbreak, Kenyan television said. According to reports from the ministry of health, there were more than 3,000 reported cases and some 1,300 patients currently admitted at health institutions in the area. A medical officer, Beth Rapuoda, was quoted by the ministry as saying although the outbreak is under control the population has low immunity to highland malaria.

Nairobi, 31 May 1999, 13:55 gmt


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Item: irin-english-919

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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